The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted 32 players on pre-draft visits to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side over the last few weeks.
That’s technically over the allowed maximum of 30, but Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton don’t count against the allowable total, as long as the Steelers didn’t pay for them to travel to their facility.
But the Steelers were actually reported to be hosting 36 visitors. Four players either had scheduled visits to Pittsburgh or were reported as visiting Pittsburgh that eventually did not. The one that didn’t end up coming to Pittsburgh included some big names, as well: Florida defensive tackle Gervon Dexter, Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones, Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes and Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo.
Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network reported on March 8 that Jones had a visit scheduled with the Steelers. Dexter said himself that he was scheduled to visit with the Steelers during a March 10 podcast appearance. Jon Sokoloff of WCBI in Starkville, Mississippi reported on March 28 that Forbes was scheduled to visit the Steelers. Jordan Schultz of The Score reported just recently on April 3 that Ringo was expected to come to Pittsburgh.
Clearly, some plans changed. But does that mean we should cross those three of the Steelers draft list?
Maybe, and maybe not. There are a couple of reasons that a visit could get canceled. The player could decide they don’t want to come to Pittsburgh after meeting with a team drafting ahead of the Steelers and feeling comfortable that they will get picked before Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin have a chance. Some players just don’t have time in the allotted space to meet with every team that wants to meet with them. The Steelers could also have changed their mind and decided to go in a different direction.
Khan and Tomlin were at the pro days of Jones and Ringo, and met with Jones at the Senior Bowl and Ringo at the NFL Combine. So they are plenty familiar with those players without another visit.
The Steelers did meet with Dexter and Forbes at the combine, but that is the extent of the in-person scouting the team’s top brass has done with those two prospects.
While the Steelers are somewhat famous for almost always picking players they have scouted with their head coach and/or general manager in person in the first round, that has not always been the case with second-round picks. Both Dexter and Forbes — and Jones and Ringo, for that matter — would likely be in play for the Steelers with their two second-round selections.
The players the Steelers brought in at the end of the visit process, including Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright, Georgia tight end Darnell Washington are players that are ranked somewhat higher in the draft process and could be more realistic options for a first-round selection.
Did the Steelers take those four players off their board, did the team just want a better look at more first-round options, or did the players themselves cancel the scheduled visits? We may never find out exactly, but it’s certainly a lot hard to slot one of those four onto a Steelers draft craft at the moment.